GNRC Tanzania organized a Leadership Mentoring Forum on the 29th November 2017, where 43 youth leaders and 9 experts came together to discuss about the role of youth leaders in protecting children from violent extremism, Gang Violence, and Organized Crime. The youth leaders who attended the forum represent 126 youth who received leadership and entrepreneurship training in 2015 and 2016.
The objective of the forum was to enlighten the young leaders about the plight of children in their communities and discuss ways they could use to protect children from all forms of violence, including violent extremism. The forum was also aimed at providing a space for the young leaders to share the successes and challenges faced in their social and entrepreneurial initiatives and to connect them with mentors for further advise and support.
A child protection specialist from UNICEF and representatives from Tanzania Child Rights Forum (TCRF), Interreligious Council for Peace (IRCPT), Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) and Kintsugi Attorney were invited for the panel discussion and presentations. Two trainers who took part during LMP programs in 2016 were also invited to come and mentor the youth leaders.
The session explored the role of youth leaders in protecting children from violence. The youth were educated on the concept of violence against children, violent extremism as well as different forms of violence affecting children in Tanzania. Mr. Rodgers Fungo from the Interreligious Council for Peace in Tanzania (IRCPT) enlightened the forum participants on violent extremism, gang violence and organized crime.
“You, I, and, we, are collectively responsible to protect children from violence and to listen to them.” – participant during the forum
Mr. Eric Guga from the Tanzania Child Rights Forum explained the physical, emotional and sexual forms of violence against children. Mr. Guga reiterated to participants that physical punishment can cause mental health problems and increased aggression among children. He encouraged youth leaders to advocate for alternative disciplinary methods for children. In responding to the question of what youth should do when witnessing violence, Mr. Eric asked participants to report at Gender desks in nearby police stations or call a child helpline number 116.
Mr. Pedro Guerra from UNICEF presented about actions youth leaders could take to end violence against children. In his presentation, Mr. Guerra asked participants about their perception of Men and Women to draw attention on norms that prolong violence. Mr. Guerra insisted that youth, when they witness acts of violence against children, as bystanders they should take action to protect the children. He encouraged youth to change harmful social norms that affects children.
Ms. Gloria Kalabamu, a mentor, trainer and lawyer at Kintsugi attorney elaborated 3 different scenarios of a child who was beaten up and affected by parents conflicts in a family, a child in a forced marriage situation who was deprived her right to study and another child who was sexually abused. Referring to these 3 scenarios that were sent by a speaker who could not make it to the event (Ms. Khalila Mbowe), Gloria asked the youth leaders to work to improve the conditions of children today if they want make the world a better place.
The participants shared their experiences related to violent extremism as well as violence against children they noted “The family and the community has the responsibility to safeguard the welfare of a child in terms of upbringing, education, health and their right to be protected from violence.”
The forum enabled the youth leaders to be educated on violent extremism as it relates to violence against children.It also provided a space for youth to share their initiatives and receive advices from experts, trainers and mentors. The role of youth was also captured during the forum by experts during presentations as well as by youth leaders during group discussions. The youth leaders came up with awareness messages of their engagement and support toward fighting against different forms violence.
End Child Poverty plans to use the LMP forum as a platform for Ending violence against Children with a dedicated theme of raising awareness on Preventing Violent Extremism.